MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s former industry minister, who resigned after coming under scrutiny over his links to a company that appeared in the Panama Papers, has withdrawn his application for a senior job at the World Bank, a government source said on Tuesday.
Jose Manuel Soria could not be contacted for comment on Tuesday but newspaper El Mundo reported he had told the economy ministry in a letter he was withdrawing after being asked to by the government and because of how his application was being used politically.
Soria’s nomination as his country’s representative at the World Bank, announced on Friday by the acting center-right government, sparked public outrage in Spain and drew criticism from across the political spectrum.
The news came at a sensitive time in Spanish politics, where bickering between parties is edging the country toward its third election in a year.
He stepped down as minister in April after reports surfaced of his alleged links to an offshore company on the British island of Jersey, saying he was resigning to limit any damage to the caretaker government. Soria has denied any wrongdoing.
The conservative People’s Party (PP) has governed in an acting capacity since losing its majority in an inconclusive election in December following a string of corruption scandals.
The PP again won the most votes in a second ballot in June, but still fell short of a majority in another hung parliament.
Parties have yet to find a way out of the impasse, and PP leader Mariano Rajoy has struggled to get enough rivals to back him for a second term in office.
Soria’s nomination to the executive director position at the World Bank prompted the PP’s political rivals to demand explanations in parliament from acting Economy Minister Luis de Guindos.
Rajoy shrugged off the appointment on Monday, saying Soria was no longer a political figure, but even some regional PP leaders showed their discomfort in recent days and questioned his nomination.
Close to 290,000 people had by Tuesday signed an online petition asking the World Bank to veto Soria’s appointment.
Reporting by Andres Gonzalez, Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Catherine Evans